Friday, August 31, 2007

Ball caps revisited

One of the comments on my baseball cap post, by "anonymous" led me to wish to post more on this.

I think maybe your opinion about someone's outer appearance should be a little less judgemental (sic). I don't know... just a thought. Maybe that guy who met your friend for coffee just wanted to keep it a casual thing and thought nothing of it. Ya never know.

Whether we like it or not, people are going to judge us based on appearance. It's a fact. It's part of the reason the fashion industry is huge. Everyone knows that part of others' first impression of them is going to be based on what they are wearing. It's why job seekers--and generally people on a first date--make that extra effort to look good.

The way we dress also expresses our attitude toward the place we are going and the people around us. Keeping a hat on in a restaurant or coffee shop is still considered disrespectful and ill-mannered. The few dismissals I've seen of this rule are of the "we're gonna do it, so get over it" variety. Not exactly respectful.

In our society judgment has become a dirty word. But judgment is not a bad thing. This is the definition from the American Heritage dictionary:

  1. The act or process of judging; the formation of an opinion after consideration or deliberation.
    1. The mental ability to perceive and distinguish relationships; discernment: Fatigue may affect a pilot's judgment of distances.
    2. The capacity to form an opinion by distinguishing and evaluating: His judgment of fine music is impeccable.
    3. The capacity to assess situations or circumstances and draw sound conclusions; good sense: She showed good judgment in saving her money. See Synonyms at reason.

In fact, better judgment could save a lot of pain. Girls. If he comes to pick you up for a date in a cap set askew and a tank top, just stay home. (Unless you're going boating, to play softball, etc.) But, if it's for dinner, forget it. They don't call sleeveless white shirts "wife-beaters" for no reason.

We all make judgments every day about the people we see. Most of them are at the unconscious or subconscious level. We notice whether people are clean, whether they seem to care about their appearance, whether their clothes are appropriate. Sometimes we may notice their attitude, whether positive or negative. Depending on the circumstances this can help us know how to deal with that person.

The young man in the coffee shop with the baseball cap may, indeed, have thought nothing of it. And that is precisely the problem.


Kim said...

I think part of the issue is that men aren't taught these things anymore. Etiquette is what is socially acceptable, it is now socially acceptable to wear a baseball cap indoors. Maybe it's more a regional thing (things are way more relaxed on the West Coast than in IN) or a family thing. Dh very seldom wears caps but when he does it's because he is having a bad hair day. If we were to go to a casual eating place or for coffee he wouldn't take it off because it wasn't what we were taught to do. If we were going to a more formal dinner he wouldn't wear it in the first place. Maybe this young may you spoke of is only following what he has been brought up to do.

I don't see a difference in this any more than I see the change in pulling out a chair for a lady. I was never taught to expect a man to open the car door or pull out my chair. In fact I only know one man who was taught this was important. When I am in his house I follow his rules but I'm exceedingly uncomfortable with them. If he had used this as a criteria for getting to know someone he would never have had us as friends or even married his wife. He has instructed his wife in the reasons he feels this is important because he was raised this way, but they rest of us weren't.

I really don't think this is a matter of respect as much as it's a change in what is acceptable by society as a whole. Maybe it's not a good change but I don't think we should jump to the conclusion that people are being deliberately disrespectful.

Michelle Constantinescu said...

My husband is European and would die before he sat at a table with a hat on. I have to say there is something for dressing appropriately. It's actually nice! For instance, if we're going out to a nice dinner and spending more than usual, it's kind of disappointing to get dressed up and see half the restaurant in t-shirts and jeans. And yeah, first impressions are very powerful, no matter how we try to buck it.

Anonymous said...

I think Kim pretty much expanded on exactly what I meant. I've never heard it deemed "ill-mannered" to wear a cap inside a shopping mall, fast food restraunt, or coffee shop. Of course you wouldn't wear one on a real first date to a full service restraunt. Also I completely agree that first impressions are important, but I don't know about you but I know that I have been wrong about first impressions many a time. What gets me is the fact you said "this guy didn't stand a chance". To me, that means that judgement (which is important to use) was made entirely and solely on the fact that this poor guy wore a cap. To me, this line of thinking can be dangerous for society. It becomes a weird mix of adult life and a clique centered, junior high like life style.

Just so you know, the most "proper" fellow that I ever knew ended up being a real creep and was charged for sleeping with a teenage girl. "Don't judge a book by its cover". I guess that would be the moral of the story.

Anonymous said...

Sigh......when I stumbled on this blog, I was excited to see that you were a fellow homeschooler and Christian.....until I read it. As homeschoolers, we are always expecting people NOT to jump to conclusions about us or our children. (for example that we're all weird, our children are uneducated , unsocialized, etc.) Yet many times homeschoolers are some of the most judgemental people I know. And yes, there is a HUGE difference between "using judgement", and having a "judgemental" attitude. You might want to check that dictionary again.

Times have changed in regard to what is considered acceptable to wear. Lifestyles are more casual, and even many businesses and churches have become more informal. That doesn't make it right or wrong.....just different. As a homeschooler, I think different is good.

Which brings me to the Christian part. As followers of Christ, we are not to worry about conforming to the standards of man. So I have to ask....why in the world would something so inocuous be so important to you. Wearing a baseball cap to a restaurant is no more disrespectful than wearing jeans to church. (Although I'm going to guess that you would have a problem with that too.) I seriously doubt that Jesus would have a problem with guys wearing baseball caps, tank tops, jeans, or any other casual clothing, so I think that's the side I'll stick with.

By the way....I've seen three differnt situations of spousal abuse at church.....they all wore suits..

Jane said...

Okay Kim, I'm just cracking up picturing your dh with a bad hair day. :)

The big difference I see with the chair pulling out is that the retreat from that--and holding doors--came about as part of women's lib, and some folks are very offended at having it done for them. It is never good etiquette to make someone else uncomfortable.

That's the reason that I don't tell people to take their hats off. :)

Kim said...

It's amazing how buzzed hair can get messy if it's not really short! I keep it as short as I can but since he's required to wear a hard hat at some of his accounts he comes home with it laying down in all directions. He's hoping I'll just shave it all off :)

You hit a nerve with me and I apologize if I came across too strongly. The friend I mentioned is always harping on me for my lack of etiquette when it comes to the car door, chairs being pulled out, etc. What he sees as disrespect I see as being practical especially since I was only taught about letting a man open a door to a building and not his other list of stuff. We all have our pet peeves!

Jane said...

Oh, Kim, you can say anything you want. And you know that I would be so happy if you could come over for dinner that I wouldn't care if your dh & ds kept their hats on!

And you wouldn't have to worry about Colin pulling out your chair! :)

Unknown said...

It's true, young men just aren't taught that sort of thing anymore. Of course, one could wonder if any etiquette at all is taught to our young people. I share a confirmation program with a number of other congregations in the area. Many of the confirmands walk into the sanctuary for our closing worship after class, leaving their ball caps on. The students from my church know that if they don't whip them off, I'll come by and remove them for them.

Anonymous said...
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Jane said...

Sorry if anyone saw that comment before it was deleted.